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U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear 'Raging Bull' copyright case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to take up a copyright dispute over an early screenplay for what the writer's daughter says become the critically acclaimed boxing movie "Raging Bull."
/ Source: Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to take up a copyright dispute over an early screenplay for what the writer's daughter says become the critically acclaimed boxing movie "Raging Bull."

Paula Petrella, daughter of the deceased screenwriter Frank Petrella, said MGM Holdings Inc and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment had infringed the copyright of a 1963 screenplay upon which the 1980 movie was based. Fox, a subsidiary of Twenty First Century Fox Inc, is a named defendant because it has the rights to distribute MGM movies on DVD.

The movie about the life of boxer Jake LaMotta starred Robert DeNiro and was directed by Martin Scorsese. It won two Academy Awards in 1981.

Petrella, who inherited rights to the screenplay upon her father's death, renewed the copyright in 1991 but did not take action until the late 1990s. Then she said MGM was infringing on her rights by continuing to market the movie.

MGM successfully claimed that Petrella's failure to assert her claims earlier meant she had forfeited them. The studio said there was no infringement in any case because it had rights to LaMotta's story from an agreement with the boxer.

A federal district judge and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco both ruled in favor of the studio.

Oral arguments and a decision are expected in the court's term, which starts on Monday and ends in June.

The case is Petrella v. MGM, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-1315.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller and Lisa Von Ahn)